First John: 1 John 4:12b-The Father Lives in Fellowship with the Believer Who Obeys the Command to Love One Another Lesson # 171
1 John 4:12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (ESV)
“If we love one another” is composed of the following: (1) conditional particle ean (ἐάν), “if” (2) first person plural present active subjunctive form of the verb agapaō (ἀγαπάω), “we love” (3) accusative masculine plural form of the reciprocal pronoun allēlōn (ἀλλήλων), “one another.”
The conditional particle ean is employed with the subjunctive mood of the verb agapaō in order to form the protasis of a fifth class condition which is expressing an eternal spiritual principle or spiritual axiom with regards to God the Father entering into fellowship with His children.
The protasis is “if we love one another” and the apodosis is “God abides in us.”
The relationship between the protasis and the apodosis is “cause-effect.”
The cause: “if we love one another.” The effect: “God abides in us.”
Therefore, this fifth class conditional statement is simply presenting an eternal spiritual principle that if the believer loves their fellow-believer, then God the Father is living in fellowship with them.
The verb agapaō means “to divinely love” referring to the manifestation of God’s attribute of love.
The first person plural form of this verb means “any of us” referring to John and each of the recipients of First John as a corporate unit and is used in a distributive sense emphasizing no exceptions expressing that this spiritual principle is true of everyone of God’s children.
Thus, this is an “inclusive” we referring to both the author and his readers.
By using the first person plural form rather than the second person plural form, the apostle John is identifying with his readers that he is subject to this command to love one another like they are.
Since the subject of this verb agapaō is John and the recipients of First John, it therefore pertains to God’s attribute of love being reproduced and manifested in the life of the child of God by God the Holy Spirit when the former obeys the Lord’s Spirit inspired command in John 13:34 to love one another as He loves.
In other words, this love is divine in quality and character because is resides in the character and nature of God and is reproduced in the Christian by the Spirit when they obey this command.
This reproduction of the love of God in the life of the child is called “the fruit of the Spirit” by the apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22.
The reciprocal pronoun allēlōn is used with reference to the relationship between believers with each other.
The word denotes that there was to be a mutual exchange between all of them in that they were to love each other as the Lord loved them.
This exchange between each other is the proper, appropriate and obligatory response by them to each other since both were created by God, according to His image, redeemed at the cross, justified through faith alone and Jesus Christ alone and fellow members of the body of Christ.
The present tense of the verb agapaō is a gnomic present which expresses the idea that if the believer who “at any time” does divinely love their fellow believer, then God the Father is living in fellowship with them.
“God abides in us” is composed of the following: (1) articular nominative masculine singular form of the noun theos (θεός), “God” (2) preposition en (ἐν), “in” (3) dative first person plural form of the personal pronoun ego (ἐγώ), “us” (4) third person singular present active indicative form of the verb menō (μένω), “he abides.”
The articular nominative masculine singular form of the noun theos means “God” and refers to the Father which is indicated by the articular construction of this word which is anaphoric.
This means that the article is indicating that this word is used in the first assertion in this verse and is retaining the same meaning here and referent here in the apodosis of the fifth class condition as it did in the first assertion.
The verb menō means, “to live” since it pertains to the Father living in fellowship with the believer who love their fellow-believer.
The genitive first person plural form of the personal pronoun ego means “us” since the word refers to John and the recipients of this epistle as a corporate unit.
It is the object of the preposition en, which means “in fellowship with” since the word is functioning as a marker of association.
Therefore, this prepositional phrase is expressing the idea of the Father living in association with or in fellowship with the believer as a result of the latter obeying the Lord Jesus Christ’s Spirit inspired command to love one another.
The present tense of the verb menō is a gnomic present referring to a general, timeless fact expressing the idea that if any believer does at any time divinely love their fellow-believer, then God the Father is “as an eternal spiritual truth” existing in the state of living in fellowship with them.
1 John 4:12 Absolutely no one at any time has observed God (the Father). If any of us at any time does divinely love each other, this God (the Father) is living in fellowship with us. Consequently, His love is accomplishing its purpose in us. (Author’s translation)
1 John 4:12 contains three assertions.
All three are designed to emphasize with the recipients of First John the critical importance of continuing to make it their habit of obeying the Lord Jesus Christ’s Spirit inspired command in John 13:34 and 15:12 to love one another as He loves them.
The first is presented in a declarative statement.
The second is presented in a fifth class conditional statement and the third is found in a result clause.
The first assertion states that absolutely no one at any time has observed God the Father.
The second teaches that if any believer does at any time divinely love their fellow-believer, then God the Father is living in fellowship with them.
Third asserts God’s love is accomplishing its purpose in the believer if they divinely love their fellow-believer.
This second assertion is presented in a fifth class conditional statement, which is simply presenting an eternal spiritual principle or spiritual axiom that if the believer loves their fellow-believer, then God the Father is living in fellowship with them.
Therefore, if compare the first assertion with the second, John is implying that the believer will personal encounter the Father who is invisible as a result of obeying the command to love one another.
In other words, God is invisible, the Father will live in fellowship with them through obedience to this command.
The implication is that when the believer is exercising divine love by obedience to the Father and Son’s command to love one another, they are personal encountering God who is invisible.
However, since this love is one of His attributes and the believer is exercising this love by obeying the command to love one another, the believer is personally coming into contact with God who is invisible.
In other words, the believer who is exercising the love of God by their obedience to the command to love one another is personally experiencing who God is, namely love.
In fact, God’s manifesting Himself to the members of the human race through the believer who obeys the command to love one another since such obedience manifests who God is and particular it manifests His attribute of love and it thus manifests His presence in the human race.
In fact, Jesus taught in John 13:34-35 that the non-believer will know they are His disciples if they obey His command to love one another as He loves them.
This is the fifth time in First John that the apostle John explicitly mentions the Lord Jesus Christ’s command in John 13:34 and 15:12 to love one another.
The first time he mentions this command explicitly is 1 John 3:11.
He then mentions it a second time in 1 John 3:23 and then a third time in 1 John 4:7 and a fourth time in 1 John 4:11.
Now, here in 1 John 4:12 he mentions this command explicitly for the fifth time in the epistle.
It is important to understand that the command to love one another in 1 John 4:12 is not merely a repetition of what has been said before in the epistle, but rather there is a progression of thought taking place here in this verse.
In 1 John 2:7 and 3:11, the command is said to be familiar to the recipients of First John in the sense that they have been taught this command from the beginning of their Christian instruction.
In 1 John 3:23, John asserts that the fulfillment of one’s prayer requests to the Father are based upon obedience to this command.
Then, in 1 John 4:7, John identifies the source of this love which the recipients of First John must continue to manifest in their lives in relation to each other.
Then, in 1 John 4:11, he asserts that they must obey the command to love another because they are obligated to do so because the Father sent His one and only Son to the cross to be the propitiatory sacrifice for each and every sin they would commit during their lifetimes.
Now, here in 1 John 4:12, the apostle John is teaching the recipients of First John that if they continue to obey the command to love one another, then the Father will continue to live in fellowship with them.
By implication he is also teaching this verse that they will personal encounter God the Father who is invisible if they continue to love one another.